Martinez – Jerry Thomas

Use small bar glass 

One wineglass of vermouth. Two small lumps of ice. 

One dash of bitters. 

Two dashes of maraschino. 

One pony of Old Tom gin. 

SHAKE up thoroughly, and strain into a large cocktail glass. Put a quarter of a slice of lemon in the glass and serve. If the guest prefers it very sweet add two dashes of gum syrup.

There are so many stories surrounding the birth of this, and therefore the Martini. When vermouth first came to the US it was all big, red and Italian. It first shows up in print in The Modern Bartender (1884) which gives a succinct summary of the Martinez, “same as Manhattan, only you substitute the gin for whisky.”, it makes sense that later as it became available white vermouth was substituted into drinks in place of the red, a little tinkering with the proportions, and voila, Martini anyone?

I remember years ago reading that after the gold rush in San Francisco a prospector came down from the hills for a touch of civilisation, rolled into a bar and asked the bartender to make him something new and fancy, something he’d never tried before. The bartender duly put a few ingredients together, and when asked for its name replied ‘Martinez’, the name of a nearby town, and the Martinez was born. I like this story because the Occidental Hotel, where Jerry Thomas worked was apparently right opposite the ferry terminal in San Francisco, which is where the ferry left bound for Martinez, and its just way too tempting to tie him in with the creation myth and I like him a little Gump-like.

I spent most of the afternoon in the company of the men from Four Pillars gin, and we ended up in Merchant House, which seemed an appropriate time to have a Martinez. The city outside was covered in snow for the first time in years, a long way from San Francisco climes, but Merchant House gently seems to transport you back in time, and it had been a gin kind of day, and then some.

I really like the Martinez, I find it ever so slightly on the sweet side, the bitters helps balance this a little, and it really showcases the vermouth.

This guest does not prefer it sweet.